Well-Being as an Element of International Education
This week, Georgia Tech joins universities around the country to celebrate International Education Week. The annual initiative, spearheaded by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education, promotes programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.
The Office of International Education (OIE) is hosting events throughout the week that illuminate the global opportunities available at Georgia Tech, both on campus and around the world. Events include trivia, a crepe party, information sessions, movie nights, and more.
This year, a new event called DiversiTea on Thursday, Nov. 21, will feature teas from some of the 126 home countries represented by international students at Georgia Tech. While sampling the unique richness of the various teas, participants will be asked to consider how diversity enriches the academic and cultural experience at Tech.
The event will include a “Fill Your Cup” station, encouraging students to explore personal motivators, wellness indicators, and behaviors that contribute to or detract from their overall sense of well-being.
Tina Rousselot de Saint Céran, director of International Student and Scholar Services, believes it is important to recognize the significant contributions of international diversity to the academic and cultural environment at Georgia Tech. “International students, guest researchers, and faculty bring global perspectives to our classrooms and contribute to a greater understanding of the world’s cultures and global priorities for our students. The diversity of perspectives in our classrooms, labs, and in the communities leads to greater innovations in science and technology. International students and scholars also contribute to global learning outcomes and the production of globally competent graduates,” Rousselot de Saint Céran said.
“Universally, sharing tea brings people together and contributes to a sense of well-being. Well-being is an important topic for many high-achieving international students enduring the rigors of Georgia Tech coursework while also adjusting to a new cultural and linguistic environment,” said Kayli Harlan, DiversiTea’s event organizer and international student and scholar advisor.
Wellness is an inclusive topic and incorporates many aspects of the student experience such as successful time management and study habits, healthy diet and exercise practices, engagement in co-curricular and socio-cultural programming, access to religious communities and practice, connection with affiliate groups, and hobby communities.
When asked what she misses the most about home, Manlin Xu, a first-semester undergraduate from southwest China, smiles and says, “The food.” Hao-Lun Hsu, a new graduate student from Taiwan studying mechanical engineering, finds time management tricky when studying in a second language and balancing academic and personal life demands. “I have to spend more time studying. And also I now have to cook for myself.”
Both Xu and Hsu have found successful strategies for coping with new environmental stressors by seeking out personal wellness activities. Xu joined an ultimate frisbee team and instituted a weekly routine that encourages her to explore new topics and meet new people. Hsu joined the Student Alumni Association, Mentor Jackets, and Leadership Edge to help him develop new relationships and prepare for his professional journey.
DiversiTea is the first of a series of wellness activities in OIE’s Fill Your Cup campaign, which is designed to support the goal of whole-person education as articulated in the report from Georgia Tech’s Commission on Creating the Next in Higher Education. It also aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3 of fostering good health and well-being.
Another upcoming IEW event that supports UN Sustainable Development Goals is “Reinventing the Toilet: Solving a Global Equity Challenge” on Nov. 21 at 5 p.m. in Room 1443, Klaus Advanced Computing Building. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Generation 2 Reinvented Toilet program, led by Shannon Yee, seeks to improve access to sanitation around the world.